Cleat Geeks

#ManCrush Monday Series: Adam Thielen

This is the third in a series of articles that will all include the hashtag #ManCrush in which I will highlight specific players that I have fallen in love with in terms of fantasy football and why I am excited about their 2018 season and beyond. Some aspects of subsequent articles may stem from previous articles, so I encourage you to read them all. I also encourage you to check out each of the links for a more in depth look at what makes these players so special.

 

As I’ve noted previously, I am a huge fan of the Green Bay Packers, and the rivalries that exist in the NFC North are some of the most historic, longest running rivalries in sports. Even though I live in Michigan and many of my friends cheer for the Lions every Sunday, I’ve always been told you can’t cheer for another team within the division. Whether having this #ManCrush violates this rule or is somehow a loophole, I don’t care, because I have fallen in love with Adam Thielen of the Minnesota Vikings, and it started in a week 16 match-up against Green Bay on Christmas Eve in 2016.

I was visiting my relatives in Wisconsin over the holiday break, and everyone native to the state of Wisconsin is either a Packers fan or they’re lying. I felt at home being able to watch a Packers game and not be the only one cheering for them. Week 16 also happened to be the championship week of the first year of my dynasty league, and it turned out to be everything a championship match-up should be. I had picked up Thielen after he had been heavily targeted in week 12 at Detroit. It immediately paid off as he scored 10+ fantasy points the next two weeks only to put up a goose egg in week 15. I had a tough decision to make going into week 16. I knew I couldn’t afford to have any duds this week if I wanted to win a championship, but I have a bias for wanting to watch my fantasy player if possible, and since I knew this game would be televised, I chose to keep Thielen in my lineup.

What a great decision that turned out to be, as Thielen had the best game of his NFL career. He posted a career-high 12 catches for 202 yards and scored twice for his first multi-touchdown game, including a 71 yard touchdown on which he beat Quinten Rollins with a double move to help keep the Vikings at least within striking distance of the Packers. It was a win-win for me, as the Packers got the win 38-25, and Thielen gave me a whopping 42 fantasy points. I needed each and every one of those points from Thielen, as my opponent had Le’Veon Bell and Travis Kelce scored nearly 60 points combined and ended up with a total of 172. I edged him out with 177 points thanks to Thielen and my first #ManCrush David Johnson, who scored over 30 points against the Seahawks. Thielen finished the 2016 season with 69 catches for 967 yards in just 10 starts. This production earned him a brand new, 3-year deal worth $27 million ($11 million guaranteed).

Adam Thielen is a Minnesota native and was not highly recruited, or really recruited at all, out of high school or college (Minnesota-State Mankato), but he had a dream of playing in the NFL, and he did everything he could to put himself in a position to reach that goal. You can read about it in “Made in Minnesota“, right from Thielen himself. He made enough of an impression on coaches when he was given an opportunity, and now he is half of one of the best wide receiver duos in the league. He and running mate Stefon Diggs combined for 140 receiving yards per game in 2017, and their versatility made them a nightmare for opposing defensive coordinators. While Diggs outscored Thielen 8 to 4 in touchdowns, Thielen posted 91 catches for 1,276 yards and started all 16 games for the Vikings, making him fifth in yards and eighth in receptions in terms of NFL receiving leaders last year. Diggs had 64 catches for 849 in 14 games.

At 6’3″, 200 lbs, Thielen is a taller receiver with great route running skills, strong hands, and a high football IQ. He, like Diggs, can play both outside and in the slot. Thielen fits the mold of the taller slot receiver that is becoming more popular in the NFL. His ability to create separation quickly and use his size and hands to convert on third down consistently made him a very reliable target in those situations. In fact, Thielen ranked second in 2017 with 25 first down catches on third down, behind only Keenan Allen, and had 59 first down catches overall, good for eighth. The Vikings will move him and Diggs all over the formation and will even run the same play twice in a row, simply flipping Thielen and Diggs from slot to the outside, or vice-versa, to give a different look. If you ever lose track of him on the field, just look for the yellow gloves.

In 2017, Thielen was able to be productive with Sam Bradford and Case Keenum at quarterback, and now the Vikings have brought in the highly coveted Kirk Cousins, who has three straight seasons throwing for 4000+ yards and 25+ touchdowns. With the skill position corps of Cousins, second year running back Dalvin Cook, Thielen, Diggs, and Kyle Rudolph, the Vikings 2018 offense has the potential to support each of them from a fantasy perspective and be one of the highest scoring offenses in the entire league, especially since they’ll need to keep pace with the the rest of the NFC that all took steps forward this off-season offensively. If they hadn’t lost Jerick McKinnon to the 49ers, the Vikings offense may have been unstoppable. I predict that Thielen again tops 1,000 yards this season and sets a career high in touchdowns (which means at least 6).

Watch more on Thielen’s journey as well as highlights below:

From Undrafted to Unstoppable

Undrafted to NFL Star

One last thing: I bought this shirt and renamed my dynasty team “Hooked on a Thielen”. Thielen also wears #19, which just so happens to be my favorite/lucky number. The #ManCrush is real.

Thanks for reading! Be sure to go back and read my first two articles on David Johnson and Patrick Mahomes if you haven’t already! Stayed tuned for my next #ManCrush article on Cooper Kupp! Check out all my work and follow me on Twitter @brad_petrowitz.

 

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